Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Customer Review of West Broad Village

There’s this development in the middle of Short Pump called “West Broad Village.” It used to be the site of a beautiful meandering farm surrounded by a white fence, with lush green pastures dotted by cattle. When my kids were toddlers they would always point at them, squealing with delight, “COWS!!!” Now I mostly point at the ridiculous traffic pouring out of the place and scream in frustration.

They started building this planned community the very second the old farmer finally agreed to sell the land, unfortunately just before the mortgage crisis broke and dried up all the credit. For awhile only ten percent of the place was out of the ground making it look like the dumbest idea ever. Many of we Short Pumpians were worried that we would be stuck with this still-birthed mountain of debris and hollowed out shells for years. There was worry about colonies of rats breeding in the rubble that would soon branch out into our neatly trimmed communities. There was dark talk of crack houses sprouting up. All of that overwrought suburban angst proved wasted after the financial markets recovered and the money started to flow again. Now it’s nearly completed, and we have a fully functioning, er, eh, well, actually I’m not sure what we have honestly.

The developers seemed to have wanted to build a neighborhood that looked 100 years old. Row houses with tiny little front yards no bigger than a large coffee table would line both sides of the street with fake gas lamps lighting the way. The rear of these houses featured concrete alley ways where the upwardly mobile young couples could park their two Tahoe’s in their big garages. But these alleys don’t have dumpsters or rats so I’m not sure they even count as alleys. To make the place even older looking some genius suggested making all the streets out of brick, which looked great until 6 months of traffic caused them to settle all catawampus-like so now you need a Tahoe to make it through the place.

Mixed in amongst the rows and rows of townhouses are businesses of all descriptions, just like a real town might have, if by “all descriptions” you mean “restaurants.” The website says, “West Broad Village is designed for people who want to live, work, shop and play within the community they call home.” And this community of chain restaurants, health clubs, wine lofts and cigar lounges is all crammed into 115 acres along with the 2000 or so hipsters who live there.

This is called the New Urbanism by it’s proponents. But, it comes with some very Old Urbanism problems, namely…traffic. The problem seems to be that there are a ton of people who would never dream of living there but nonetheless are crazy about Tex-Mex. That was Pam and I last night. We head over to Chuys for dinner and spent literally 10 minutes inside the parking garage sitting still while an overmatched Asian woman tried to make up her mind whether or not she wanted to park. It didn’t help that she was driving an SUV and it also didn’t help that she didn’t know how to drive. The poor thing had no chance. At one point she even got out of her vehicle to plead with the ten of us in line behind her to all back up so she could more easily maneuver her Escalade into the space recently occupied by a Honda Civic. I was smugly proud of myself for maintaining my composure( thanks to the two beers I had had earlier at Mona’s Cigar Lounge!), when suddenly Pam reached across and violently engaged the horn. “Get back in your car and move along woman!” Pam was hungry and not in a mood to be trifled with. Ten minutes later we found a spot on the roof, then had a lovely meal of way too much steak burrito and you’ve got to be kidding “Chuychanga.”

The developers essentially wanted to relocate the Fan into Short Pump while leaving the crime down on the Boulevard. The problem is, they forgot to bring the Fan’s charm during the move.